Meet Sheena Antonios, a Canadian Product Manager💻 who transitioned to tech from a non-traditional background, and found immense value in becoming a part of our community 🙌. Sheena shares her career journey with the WaveMakers team, discussing the skills required for a job in product management, the challenges and joys of her work, and her thoughts on stereotypes in the tech industry.
🚀Sheena’s journey to product management began when she studied entrepreneurship and psychology at university. Her passion for psychology led her to pursue a minor in the subject, and she took a major in entrepreneurship. 🌟In the beginning, she worked in several odd jobs, including as a writer, in the alcohol and service industry, and in digital marketing. After realizing that she wasn’t fully satisfied with her career, she decided to get into the tech industry.
💫She moved to Berlin to study UX and UI design, which led her to discover product management as a role that aligned with her interests and background. She started working as a product manager for a legal tech company in Berlin and, just a month ago, took on a new role as a product manager in neobanking.
So, what does a typical day at work look like for Sheena? 🌞As a product manager, she ensures that the product delivers value to users and the business.
"What I like about product management is that you really get a broad view of how your segment in the company works since you speak to so many different departments. You get to collaborate with engineers, designers, marketers, and customer service agents."
She loves the fact that no two days are the same. One week she might be focused on design, another week on delivery or discovery, and another day on metrics and business impact 🤔. However, the challenge of context switching can be difficult, as she has to jump from different focuses throughout the day or week.
✨What skills does Sheena think are essential for someone interested in a job like hers? While there are now some schools that teach product management, most product managers come from different backgrounds. Sheena thinks that being organized is critical, as you work with many different stakeholders and departments, each with its approach to problems.
"I think a good skill to have is to be able to see every department’s perspective and understand where they are coming from and how they’re approaching a topic. Have that empathy or intuition."
🧠On the practical side, you need an understanding of the user experience, business, and tech collaboration to create digital products.
💁♀️ Do stereotypes about the tech industry treating women unfairly hold any truth? Sheena believes that women and minorities may have to work harder to prove themselves, even if their work is just as good as their counterparts.
"My belief is that the inequality in the tech industry is just a larger reflection of the inequality in society in general."
In the tech industry, data-driven approaches have helped shed light on gender disparities. For example, the analysis of children’s films showed that women are underrepresented even in cartoons! She acknowledges that the industry has been dominated by men, but she believes that things are changing albeit slowly. Sheena is a strong advocate for women in tech and encourages more women to join the industry.
👩💻 Sheena’s advice for aspiring women in tech is to find a mentor or seek out other women in their organization or industry. She personally found that her fellow women in tech have been incredibly supportive of her throughout her journey. She found the community of women in tech encouraging, and many are willing to uplift their fellow women in tech 👭💻. Networking is essential in any industry, and women in tech can benefit from attending local meetups, coding nights, or joining online communities like Xena.
"There’s going to be some discomfort at the beginning and that’s OK. Lean into that, and get more comfortable taking up the space that you deserve."
🚀 Lastly, Sheena believes that becoming a WaveMaker has had a significant impact on her leadership style.
"It ignited a lot of self-reflection and understanding of the shared experiences I have with so many other people, probably because sometimes when you consider your struggles, you think of them as uniquely your own. And it’s not only validating but comforting to be in a space where you can share those experiences with others. The program gave me the confidence to bring my vulnerable and authentic self to the table"
💡 Sheena is proof that you don’t need to have a traditional tech background to succeed in the industry. We need more people like Sheena to change the perception of the tech industry and encourage more women to pursue careers in tech. By leaning into discomfort and taking up the space they deserve, women in tech can become successful leaders and WaveMakers in their own right. So go ahead and make some waves!💪